With the growth of online businesses and the emergence of the millennial/young professional travel trend, Online Travel Agencies have become a growing segment of the travel industry. While there is already a good number of OTAs up and running there’s always room for growth, and this is still a quite new strategy for boosting the market value of existing travel businesses. In this blog, I will provide a brief summary of what constitutes an OTA, how to build one and ways to best leverage the business assets an OTA creates.
What is an Online Travel Agency OTA?
An Online Travel Agency is essentially a website through which a company can offer a variety of travel products to consumers. This covers a wide variety of travel-related products and services, such as airline flights, hotel booking, car rentals, cruises, tours, vacation packages, and more. The OTA is essentially a middleman, or broker, connecting travel product and service providers with consumers through a user-friendly interface.
Following trends established by the 4.0 revolution, the travel industry has been shifting towards internet-based solutions to reach target customers, which accounts for their rising popularity.
How to get started?
Millions of people use OTAs for business and vacation bookings, which reflects the fact that today, just about anyone can find travel services online. To reach these customers through an OTA, you’ll need to define and refine your objectives and requirements. To do so, you’ll need to determine the following:
- Which platform do you want to build? Mobile app, website, or both?
- What services do you want to provide?
- Which functions/modules do you require for your OTA? (Examples include flight booking, hotel reservations, rental car reservations, transfers, and so on. Also think about payment/finance/insurance options, which customers will expect to be able to do through your OTA.)
These are the basic considerations you’ll need to think about when building an online travel agency.
Next, add these services to your website/application by either having a CMS system for whatever content you have, or you can just integrate the XML/API to get the content from third party suppliers. Choose the right set of travel API for all the travel products you want to sell. There are several to choose from so depending on your specific needs, pick the API that best enhances the user experience for your services.
The next step will be defining the business model. Contact the travel technology partners whose products and services will be featured on your website/app OTA. It’s important to invest the necessary time and effort here, along with your development team, to ensure a successful and user-friendly experience. Be prepared to update the website/app frequently as new technologies become available; you want to present the best and most cutting-edge experience to keep existing customers and attract new ones.
The above graphic shows you the overview of the relationship among functions of basic OTA, which can be customized and set up more modules as the request. These also summarize all standard information that you should collect and prepare for while building an OTA.
Adamo’s advice to effectively apply OTA to boost business
In general, OTAs are in wide use globally, either connected to Global Distribution Systems or individual airlines. Travel startups that want to develop their online business with multiple travel products need to know how to productively integrate OTA principles into their business. As a qualified developer of OTA systems, Adamo Digital can provide some tips and suggestions to integrate OTA technologies for selling travelling products.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
The first objective of any OTA is to attract traffic when people looking for travel services do a search through a search engine like Google. To maximize potential, your website must be visible at or near the top in the top of the search engine results. For this, your website must have good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools, and that’s why you need a digital marketing team with the expertise to help you attract the most attention.
To succeed, your website/app must be user-friendly and accessible across multiple platforms (PC/laptop/tablet/smartphone, etc.) Additionally, the front or “landing” page should feature attractive offers and deals, such as discounted tickets for special events, vacation packages, and “bundled” discounts. This is important in order to gain the immediate interest of your customers and represents the competitive advantages of your website or app. Again, the goal is twofold: Attract new customers and retain existing ones.
Making these extras available creates more perceived value, but adds complexity behind the scenes. The fact that creating the best customer experience means more complexity on the back end should be invisible to your clients; these functions should be seamlessly integrated into your website or app. This is when a technology partner with the requisite expertise becomes indispensable. .
Your website or app should also include reviews from prior users, which will help your customers in making decisions. Furthermore, building trust via the website/application’s performance is also a smart strategy to impress and retain users. Regularly reviewing and improving the look, quality and performance of your website and/or application keeps it fresh and exciting for existing and new customers alike.
At the forefront of the 4.0 revolution, the OTA segment is considered as a great resource for travellers. According to the 2018 Distribution and Revenue Management Trends Report, most hoteliers being interviewed have implemented an online distribution strategy and they are well aware that despite the daily tasks they need regular optimization.